Men and fitness: Tips for losing those love handles

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Some guys are blessed with a “six pack” set of “abs” and no “love handles.” However, most men really have to work at it to achieve a lean, mean, mid-section. If you are one of the many discouraged men out there who believe you have tried everything to lose the fat around the middle, don’t despair, because I am about to share with you some effective and easy-to-follow techniques sure to make a dent in your middle.

Let’s begin by covering a few myths that you may have encountered over the recent years.

Myth No. 1: “You must work your abs every day to get results.” I disagree with this concept because your abdominal muscles should be treated like any other muscle group when it comes to training. Would you work your biceps or chest seven days a week? I hope you said “No.” Not only would working abs every day lead to overtraining, but it can also lead to irreversible shortening of the muscle fibers. This can create poor posture because the muscle fibers in your abdominals are unable to return to their normal resting length. I typically recommend working abdominals every other day, at most, to attain optimal benefits.

Myth No. 2: “More is better, so you should do hundreds of repetitions.” Not only will this NOT get you more defined abs, it is a complete waste of your time. I say this because if it takes you 50 repetitions to even feel “the burn,” then you are not choosing an abdominal exercise that is challenging enough. A range of 10-20 repetitions will do the trick, but be sure you experience muscle fatigue at the end of the set. If not, find another exercise.

Myth No. 3: “You can’t eat ‘carbs’ if you want to lose body fat.” I am not advocating that you eat massive amounts of pasta, potatoes and bread, but a certain amount of “quality” carbohydrates are needed for health, energy and, yes, fat burning. Too few carbohydrates in the diet can lead to malnourishment, lack of fiber, and severe fatigue. Whole grains, vegetables, and low-sugar fruits contain the carbohydrates your body needs while providing many necessary nutrients. Make smart choices and practice portion control.

Now that we have worked though some of the confusing myths out there, let’s turn our attention to what we need to start doing to burn off those “love handles.” Here are a handful of guidelines to follow:

1. Strength Train—Follow a comprehensive weight training program that includes working all the major muscle groups. Lifting weights at least three days a week will increase your fat burning metabolism. Be sure to change your routine every three to six weeks to keep your metabolism high.

2. Do Aerobic Exercise—Mix up your aerobic choices, and incorporate interval training to burn more calories. Aerobic exercise should be done on most, if not all, days of the week for a minimum of 30 minutes a day at a moderate intensity.

3. Train your Entire Core—Be sure and work your lower back in addition to your abs because it is important to maintain muscular balance. As mentioned above, your abdominal muscles are just like other muscles in your body. Try doing a couple of exercises, and do between 10-20 repetitions of each for two to three sets. Be sure to use controlled movements without momentum, and challenge yourself with different exercises.

4. Eat Healthy and Drink Plenty of Water—Having sound nutrition is going to make or break your success. Choose quality, wholesome foods that are rich in fiber and nutrients and keep your overall fat intake low. Remember to include the healthy fats and drink plenty of water to keep your metabolism functioning optimally.

I hope you find these tips helpful and motivating!

Always consult a doctor before beginning any exercise program or making any dietary changes.

Stephie Steele is owner of Symmetry Fitness, LLC. She has been featured in IDEA Health & Fitness Source magazine and specializes in weight loss, sports performance, total body fitness, posture alignment therapy, strength training, core conditioning, cardiovascular and flexibility training. Visit her Web site at or e-mail her with questions at

from the April 4-10, 2007, issue

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